Former MotoGP star Jeremy McWilliams has been drafted into the Mar-Train racing team for this year's North West 200 after regular rider Dan Kneen was injured on Friday in a training accident.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kneen suffered an arm injury after falling off his mountain bike and required surgery on Saturday. He is now recovering in hospital on the Isle of Man and will miss the first of this year's internationals, which begins this Tuesday.
McWilliams, who won last year's second NW200 Supertwin race, has been drafted in at the 11th hour to ride the Yamaha UK machines in addition to the KMR/SGS Kawasaki he will race for Ryan Farquhar in the Supertwin class.
The 51-year-old said: “It is nice to be able to step in for Dan and help the team out this week, I have a great relationship with Tim [Martin] and the team and have experience of working with them in the past.
“I'm keen to race the North West 200 with another professional outfit and during race week my time will be divided between KMR/SGS and Mar-Train. I am looking forward to getting on the Yamahas to see how far they have come on over the past year.”
A dejected Kneen said the accident was simply 'plain bad luck'.
“I'm gutted for the whole team after all the work that has been put in,” he said.
“I'm on my bike every day and wasn't doing anything different than usual, it was plain bad luck. Surgery has gone well so all I can do is concentrate on getting fit and back on the bikes as soon as possible.
“I wish Jeremy all the best for this week, it is great that he has been able to step in for Tim, Sonya and all the sponsors.”
Team boss Tim Martin said he was hugely disappointed for Kneen but relieved to be able to bring in such a strong replacement.
“Obviously I am disappointed for Dan that this has happened, we have had a fantastic build up to the event and I was confident he would have been very competitive,” he said.
“Thankfully the minor surgery he had today has gone very well, he is now on the road to recovery and we are hopeful he will be fit for the TT in a few weeks time.
“At this late stage there were not many options available to us so we are very lucky that we have been able to bring in someone of Jeremy's pedigree.
"He was part of our test programme at the beginning of 2015 so has some knowledge of our bikes already, with no recent testing it will be a challenge but I am sure we can put on a good show for our fans and sponsors.”